Now that you finished designing your book, it’s time to move on to printing. You have the book’s paper selected and the color scheme finalized, but what about the binding?
Many methods of book binding exist for a variety of different purposes. Choosing the correct binding method determines how well your book succeeds as a physical, printed piece. This takes into account the book’s durability, longevity, and aesthetic.
Saddle Stitch: The least expensive of the traditional binding methods, saddle stitched books are bound by staples on the book’s spine (or “saddle”), making it similar to an event program. This option is merely limited by thickness.
Depending on the binding machine, a saddle stitched book can take up to 50 sheets of text-weight paper at a maximum. More commonly, saddle stitching machines are limited to 12-18 sheets.
Plastic Coil: Like its name suggests, plastic coil books are bound by a plastic coil. Just imagine if a spiral notebook were bound with plastic instead of wire. This sort of binding is durable and is great for regular-use books. Plastic coil also allows books to open completely flat.
Although plastic coil binding is less visually attractive than other binding methods it is among the most durable.
Wire-O: Wire-O is among the most aesthetically-pleasing binding methods available. Wire-O books are bound with a wire coil in a double-wire hole bind, similar to a high-quality daily planner. Smaller books benefit from wire-o binding because smaller wire coils are more stable than larger ones.
Unfortunately, wire-o is less readily available and less durable, making it more expensive as well as less practical for commonly-used books.
Perfect Binding: Similar to a softbound novel, perfect bound books are held together with glue and an outer cover. Perfect bound books are popular because they are more book-like in appearance due to a lack of spiral binding.
This binding option is limited to books of a certain thickness and to orders of 50 or more books due to binding machine setup.
Hardcover/Case Binding: Hardcover or case-bound books are bound with glue like perfect-bound books; however, they feature a thick cover stock that makes them more akin to library books or textbooks. This method is the most durable and book-like of any binding method. Case binding is also the most expensive option because of the materials used and required setup cost. In quantities under 10, case binding is so costly that customers tend to select another method. To be economical, case book binding generally requires 50 or more books to be ordered.
Alternatives to Binding
3-Hole Punch: Not every book project requires binding. One work-around is to print the book on 3-hole punched pages and place them in a 3-ring binder. The 3-hold punch alternative is very adaptable in that pages are readily interchangeable and removable.
CD/Disk Storage: An additional binding alternative actually requires no binding at all. Disk storage – or storage in which the book is saved digitally as a PDF and placed on a CD – is one of the most inexpensive options available. CDs are quite transportable and are great for sharing. As such, CDs are also easily lost or damaged. One must also have a computer at hand in order to use the CD.
The more book-like a binding method is – like perfect binding and case binding – the more costly it is to make due to the materials used and the required minimum order size. Plus, perfect binding and case binding work best for larger books. Less expensive binding options tend to benefit smaller books. Saddle stitching and wire-o are particularly suited for thinner books.
In sum, the two most important factors to consider when selecting your binding method are (1) your budget and (2) the number of pages in your book.
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